In Case You Missed It
Boulderganic Fall 2009
Student Guide 2009
Boulder Weekly Sweet 16 Anniversary
Summer Scene 2009
Best of Boulder 2009
Annual Manual 2009
Newspaper of the Future
Kids Camp Guide 2009
Wedding Marketplace 09
Student Guide 2008
Best of Boulder 2008
Annual Manual 2008
Join Our Mailing List
|June 25 - July 1, 2009
World-renowned painter brings his exhibit to Loveland
by Barbara Byrnes-Lenarcic
California painter Wayne Thiebaud sees people, places and things through a lens covered with memories, colors, lines, shapes and shadows that he transforms into joyful works of art.
Visitors walking through Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting, on view at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, will see a carton filled with french fries sliding down a slope of white paint; a bakery case of pink donuts, frosted cupcakes and a cherry pie come alive through lines; and a San Francisco street going up, up and away into the blue sky. In the more than 100 paintings and drawings installed in five spaces in the Main Gallery and in the Green Room through Aug. 16, Thiebaud captures the splendid side of the norm.
“Some people suggest that Thiebaud informed pop art, but his work is really a celebration of American culture as opposed to a critique and a balance between representation and abstraction,” said Maureen Corey, curator of art at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, during a viewing of the exhibit.
The Thiebaud retrospective was organized by the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, Calif. In 2005, the director of the Loveland Museum/Gallery and the artist’s California representative informally agreed to display Thiebaud’s work in Loveland at a future date. That agreement gave the Loveland Museum a spot on the touring schedule when the Laguna show came together a few years ago.
Born in 1920, Thiebaud was influenced by comic strips, such as George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, sign painters and illustrators while growing up in Southern California. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Thiebaud attended California State College (now California State University) in Sacramento, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the early ’50s. His major was art with an art history, theory and education focus.
“Thiebaud comes from a noble tradition of artists,” Corey said. “He took from the artists that came before him and gave it his own visual language.”
Thiebaud started teaching in 1951, retiring in 1990 as a professor at the University of California at Davis where he occasionally teaches as a professor emeritus. Bruce Nauman, a New Mexico artist known for his eccentric sculptures and video installations, was one of Thiebaud’s students at Davis in the 1960s.
In 1956, Thiebaud took a leave of absence from teaching to spend a year in New York City. He hung out with Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline at the Cedar Bar and Eighth Street Club. Exposure to these artists and abstract expressionism — a movement that focused on the physical act of painting as a means of expression — inspired Thiebaud to use paint in unique ways, such as laying it on thick and showing detail through color variation.
The exhibit’s first space that includes still lifes, vivid figures, cityscapes and beach scenes invites viewers to dive into Thiebaud’s diversity. “Hot Dog Stand,” painted in 2004-05, features an oversized hot dog on a billboard attached to a stand planted in swirling, white sand. The ocean is a thin blue line dotted with tiny sailboats. In this painting, Thiebaud mixes his memory of working at a hot dog stand with his early 1960s painting roots when he took everyday objects, such as jukeboxes, pastries and food bowls, out of context to create fresh works of art.
“Thiebaud has a Rolodex in his head that he revisits,” Corey said.
In the second space, a juxtaposition of two 1961 paintings highlights Thiebaud’s humor. “Three Prone Figures” shows a woman decked out in a blue star bikini and two men wearing bright swimming trunks laying face down on thick, vanilla sand. Cranberry and yellow colors run through the threesome’s white bodies. These sunbathers seem to be on their way to becoming as crispy as the two birds in “Barbecued Chicken,” that shows cooked fowl laying in a white pan etched in royal blue.
After Thiebaud purchased a small house in San Francisco as a second residence and studio in 1972, he started turning the urban scene around him into bizarre cityscapes.
“East Potrero,” on the gallery’s back wall, features thin yellow and green condos and office buildings flanked by green shapes and a street that goes straight up.
“Thiebaud’s cityscapes are diagonals and perspectives that he puts off balance. He understands the rules and breaks them,” Corey said.
Beach scenes along the left wall transport visitors to a California setting of sun, sand, sea and carefree bathers. In these paintings, Thiebaud merges past memories with observations of the moment. In “Beach Boys” (1959) and “Beach Figure” (2008), the artist abstracts the figure. In “Beach Group IV,” a 2003-06 oil on board, blobs of off-white, blue and red paint become tiny figures against salmon, blue and yellow colors whipped into a white background. “Beach Group II,” created in 2003, is a faraway look at bathers depicted as bright dots on grainy sand that disappear into the smooth sea and sky.
Blending light, line, color and design elements with whimsy, Thiebaud makes the mundane marvelous in works that both catch the eye and touch the heart.
On the Bill:
Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting is on view through Aug. 16 at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland, 970-962-2410, www.ci.loveland.co.us.
back to top